Friday, November 24, 2017

Parshas Vayeitzei Messages 5778


Parshas Vayeitzei: 

This edition of Shabbos Sparks is dedicated as a merit for complete Refuos and Yeshuos sent to the Gadol HaDor, HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman shlit”a (Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib ben Gittel Feiga) and to the Vizhnitzer Rebbe shlit”a of Monsey, (Rav Mordechai ben Margoliah), bi’soch sh’ar cholei Yisroel. 

The Sages Say: 

And he encountered the place, and he stayed the night there, because the sun had set; and he took from the stones of the place and he put [them] at his head, and he lay down in that place.’ (Bereishis 28:11) 

The stones began to quarrel with each other, each saying that the Tzaddik (i.e. Yaakov Avinu) should lay his head on them.  Immediately, Hashem made them all into one stone (so that they could all have Yaakov Avinu rest his head upon them together).  This is why it is stated (verse 18) ‘and he took the stone that he had placed at his head’, (i.e. in the singular). 

(Rashi HaKadosh from Gemara Chullin 91b)  

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A Helpful Hint: 

And he encountered the place (ויפגע בּמּקוֹם), and he stayed the night there, because the sun had set; and he took from the stones of the place (מאבני המּקוֹם) and he put [them] at his head, and he lay down in that place (בּמּקוֹם ההוּא).’ (Bereishis 28:11)  

Three times in this verse, the Baal HaTurim notes, the word ‘מקוֹם -- place is used.  This alludes to the Shalosh Rigalim (Three Festivals -- Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos), when his children, (i.e. the Jews) would go up to that place (Har HaMoriah, which is where the Beis HaMikdash would later stand). 

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Chassidishe Vort: 

And behold I am with you and I will guard you anywhere you go…’ (Bereishis 28:15) 

The Baal Shem Tov (Rebbe Yisroel ben Eliezer zt”l) said that when a person remembers Hashem, no bad can befall them.  

Says the Yetev Lev (Rebbe Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum zt”l); this is alluded to in the above verse. (I.e. because if we believe that Hashem is with us, then He will guard us wherever we go).   

(Quoted in Meoros HaParsha) 

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A “Lamdanishe” Insight: 

For I cannot rise before you because the way of women is to me.’ (Bereishis 31:35) 

Rachel Imeinu had stolen Lavan’s idols and hid them in her saddlebag (see Rashi HaKadosh to 31:19, however, who brings that it was to keep Lavan from serving them).   

But when Lavan came, she of course, couldn’t get up, because then he would find the idols right under her!  So she told him that she was a Niddah at the time.  But as far as we know, she wasn’t!  Was she lying?    

Says the Vilna Gaon (HaRav Eliyahu Kramer zt”l); no.  Rachel Imeinu was not lying, Chas V’Shalom.  Rather, the Gemara (Shabbos 82) says: ‘Avodah zarah makes impure like Niddah.’  Thus, he explains beautifully, when Rachel Imeinu sat upon the idols, she came into a state of tumah (impurity) almost like she was Niddah. 

(Quoted in Maayanah Shel Torah)
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Mussar Message: 

And Yaakov awoke from his sleep, and he said; “Indeed, Hashem is in this place…!’ (Bereishis 28:16) 

A person who awakens from sleep, says Rebbe Meir’l of Premishlan zt”l, it is upon them to strengthen themselves like a lion to the service of the Creator, His Name is Blessed, as is explained in the beginning of Shulchan Aruch.   

And this is like what it says in the (above) verse, he explains: ‘And Yaakov awoke from his sleep, and he said; “Indeed, Hashem is in this place…!’ -- immediately when Yaakov Avinu woke up from his sleep, he turned to the Service of Hashem.

(Quoted in Vi’karasa L’Shabbos Oneg)

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Chazak V’ematz: 

And he lay down in that place.’ (Bereishis 28:11) 

Explains Rashi HaKadosh from Midrash Bereishis Rabbah:  The fact that it says ‘in that place’, means in this case he lay down onlyin that place’.  Because for the 14 years that he served in the house (Yeshiva) of Ever (and likely Shem), he didn’t lie down at night because he was engaged in Torah study.   

Although this is not necessarily a recommended thing to try in our own lives, it shows us a great thing:  We all have such incredible potential, so much so that we do not even know the extent of it!  A person would probably not even think that they are capable of not sleeping for a few years, let alone fourteen.  But here we see that Yaakov Avinu did so!   

This amazing potential, capability, and willpower is within us all, and we can hardly imagine the heights we can reach and the things we can do and achieve.  

HaKadosh Baruch Hu has endowed us all with such power, and if we put in our own effort, and with His Help of course, we can do amazing, amazing things and reach the highest heights.   

(Tal U’Matar)

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Maaseh B’Rabbi…

The Midrash relates a story that there were once a lot of non-Jews and one Jew traveling on a ship together.  The ship arrived at an island and the non-Jewish travelers gave money to the Jew to go buy food, etc.   

The Jew asked why he should go; after all, he was a stranger on the island as well!  And he didn’t know anyone there…

 The others replied that this was not true:  He wasn’t alone.  Hashem is with him.  As the Torah says (Devarim 4:7), ‘For who is a great nation that G-d is so close to it, like Hashem our G-d is…’ Hashem is always close to him, so therefore, he should go.   

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A Gut Shabbos to all!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

URGENT: Tefillos Needed!!!!

URGENT:  Tefillos needed for the Gadol HaDor, HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib ben Gittel Feiga, as well as the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, HaRav Mordechai ben Margulia, bisoch sh'ar cholei Yisroel.

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ShrwFSuDjD4/WhW81OfyUVI/AAAAAAAABns/xOByZ9wuuQQ_sBQYMjBWIsLOWf50b7yhQCLcBGAs/s320/%25D7%2594%25D7%25A8%25D7%2591_%25D7%25A9%25D7%2598%25D7%2599%25D7%2599%25D7%25A0%25D7%259E%25D7%259F_5.jpghttps://1.bp.blogspot.com/-M55TTRv2mdg/WhW8uQqoPAI/AAAAAAAABno/iNTKPBnL5BwU3OC1yXbAKZg34mZV2l50gCLcBGAs/s320/Vizhnitzer-Rebbe-of-Monsey.jpg 
Rav Shteinman shlit"a picture courtesy of Wikipedia                        Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey shlit"a picture courtesy of Matzav.com



Friday, November 17, 2017

Parshas Toldos Messages 5778


Parshas Toldos: 

The Sages Say: 

And these are the generations of Yitzchok, son of Avraham, Avraham begot Yitzchok.’ (Bereishis 25:19) 

Because Scripture wrote ‘Yitzchok, son of Avraham’, it needed to say ‘Avraham begot Yitzchok’, because the mockers of the generation were saying that Sarah Imeinu became pregnant from Avimelech (Chas V’Shalom), for many years she lived with Avraham Avinu and had not become pregnant.

 What did HaKadosh Baruch Hu do?  He shaped the features of Yitzchok Avinu so that they would be very similar to Avraham Avinu’s, and everyone bore witness to the fact that Avraham bore Yitzchok.  

(Rashi HaKadosh from Midrash Tanchuma)

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A Helpful Hint: 

And these are the generations of Yitzchok, son of Avraham, Avraham begot Yitzchok.’ (Bereishis 25:19) 

Very similar to what Rashi HaKadosh said above, the Baal HaTurim explains that the word ‘הוֹלּיד -- begot has the same Gematria (numerical value) as the word ‘דוֹמה -- similar.  This teaches us (or alludes to us) what Hashem did, that He made Yitzchok Avinu and Avraham Avinu look very similar.

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Chassidishe Vort: 

And Yaakov was a wholesome man who dwelt in tents.’ (Bereishis 25:27) 

From this verse, explains the Shelah HaKadosh (HaRav Yeshaya Horowitz zt”l) we learn that the trait of wholesomeness (alt. innocence, such as simple faith in Hashem) is one of the highest traits.  Because from all the many good traits that certainly Yaakov Avinu had, the Torah praises him as an ‘אישׁ תּם’, a wholesome man.

(Quoted in A Chassidishe Vort)

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A “Lamdanishe” Insight: 

And Esav hated Yaakov because of the blessing that his father had blessed him; and Esav said in his heart “Let the days of mourning for my father come and I will kill Yaakov my brother.”’ (Bereishis 27:41)

Esav was filled with rage at Yaakov Avinu, and resolved in his heart that he would avenge himself and kill Yaakov as soon as the days of mourning for Yitzchok Avinu began.  It is interesting that Esav doesn’t explicitly refer to the death of Yitzchok, but rather, ‘the days of mourning for my father’. 

The Kli Yakar (HaRav Shlomo Ephraim Lunschitz zt”l) explains beautifully the significance of this phrase:  In Yitzchok Avinu’s conciliatory blessing to Esav, he declared, “And it will be when you are aggrieved, and you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.” The commentators interpret this to mean “When Israel neglects the Torah (Rachmana Litzlan), you (Esav) will have a valid reason to be aggrieved over his having taken the blessing, and then you will be able to cast off his yoke from your neck.” 

In his desire to vanquish Yaakov forever, Esav strategically planned to wait for the ‘days of mourning’ over Yitzchok Avinu, since as a mourner, Yaakov Avinu would be halachically forbidden from engaging in (almost all) Torah study.  Without the merit of continuous Torah study, Yaakov may be vulnerable to defeat (as implied by Yitzchok Avinu’s blessing to Esav) and that is how Esav hoped to succeed in exacting his revenge.

(From The Torah of Brisk on Sefer Bereishis)

 Baruch Hashem, however, Esav’s plan was foiled.

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Mussar Message: 

And the children struggled inside of her -- ויתרצצוּ הבּנים בּקרבּהּ’ (Bereishis 25:23) 

Rashi HaKadosh quotes a Midrashic interpretation (Bereishis Rabbah) which says that the word ויתרצצוּ can also come from the word to run, רץ.  This teaches us that whenever Rivkah Imeinu would pass by a Beis Midrash, a House of Study, Yaakov Avinu would try to run to go there, and whenever she would pass by a house of idol worship, Esav would try to run to go there.   

But there is a big question that some ask; if we are taught (Gemara Niddah 30) that a Malach (Angel) teaches a baby the entire Torah inside the womb, why was Yaakov Avinu trying to leave to go to a Beis Midrash?  He was learning the entire Torah with a Malach!   

There are different answers I have seen or heard, one that he didn’t want to be learning next to a person like Esav, another that perhaps he was showing us the importance of Ameilus (toil) for our Torah, etc.  And they are all beautiful.  

But then my brother Yaakov, may he be well, asked another question:  What about Esav?  Why was he indeed trying to leave to go to a house of idol worship if he was being taught Torah by a Malach?!  How could he have been?   

And indeed, we came to an answer and lesson from it:  Learning Torah is a great and awesome thing and should be done very much, but it doesn’t automatically make us a Tzaddik if we are, Chas V’Shalom, not going to put it into practice.  Learning in and of itself is a huge Mitzvah, but with it we must work on ourselves and try to perfect our character, fulfill the other Mitzvos, etc.

 Indeed, Shimon HaTzaddik (Avos 1:2) says, “Upon three things does the world stand:  Upon the Torah, and upon the Avodah (Service of Hashem), and upon Gemilus Chassadim (acts of kindness). 

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Chazak V’ematz: 

And Yitzchok entreated opposite his wife, because she was barren, and Hashem allowed Himself to be entreated, and Rivkah his [Yitzchok’s] wife conceived.’ (Bereishis 25:21) 

We see that when Rivkah Imeinu was barren, what did Yitzchok Avinu do (and Rivkah as well, see Rashi)?  They Davened (prayed) to Hashem.  And He heard their prayers and answered them, even when things seemed bleak.   

We too must turn to Hashem with our own prayers whenever we are in need, etc. for He is there, ready to answer them.

(Tal U’Matar)

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Maaseh B’Rabbi… 

The Gemara (Berachos 60b) relates a teaching in the name of Rabbi Akiva zt”l, that a person should always accustom themselves to saying ‘Everything the Merciful One does He does for the good’.  

 And the Gemara tells a story (in the same place, going on to 61a):  Rabbi Akiva was once walking along a road when he came to a town and he needed lodgings, but he wasn’t given any.  It might have seemed like something unpleasant, but he said and accepted ‘Everything the Merciful One does is for the good’, and he went to go stay overnight in a field.  He had with him a chicken (for waking him up -- Rashi), a donkey and a candle.

 However, a wind came and extinguished the candle, a cat came and ate the chicken, and a lion came and ate his donkey.  Certainly a seemingly hopeless situation!  But, Rabbi Akiva yet again maintained and said ‘Everything the Merciful One does is for the good’.  

 It turned out that on that night, an army came and took the town he had originally intended to stay in captive.  “Did I not tell you,” said Rabbi Akiva, “That everything HaKadosh Baruch Hu does, everything is for the best?”  And Rashi HaKadosh explains that if his candle would have been lit, the army would have seen him, and if his donkey would have brayed or his chicken would have called out, the army would have (heard and) come and taken him captive.  Indeed, everything that occurred was surely for the best! 

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A Gut Shabbos to all!